Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thank You White House Press Corps

For sucking:

Q How much has been spent or requested totally for the whole relief/recovery efforts? It's over $100 billion --

CHAIRMAN POWELL: Well, with this supplemental we'll be right at $100 billion.

Q With the money now?

CHAIRMAN POWELL: With this supplement that's in there now, it would be right at $100 billion.

Q Originally it was $108 billion, back a couple of months ago; there was a $108 billion figure.

CHAIRMAN POWELL: I'm not sure about -- I can get you those exact numbers.

Q --

Q That's with the bill that's in the Senate right now?

CHAIRMAN POWELL: It's right at $100 billion, yes.

Q That includes the money that's before the Senate today?

CHAIRMAN POWELL: Yes.
Why didn’t the reporter ask why it was $108 billion before, when the supplemental bill was lower, and now only “right at $100 billion” when the supplemental bill is higher? The supplemental bill went up, but the total requested went down?

Of course, the correct answer is that didn’t happen. The higher number includes the money the National Flood Insurance Program can borrow to pay flood claims. The lower number doesn’t. Powell must have slipped up and counted only the money he has at his disposal to actually rebuild the Gulf Coast. He must have forgotten that he needs to pad the totals with the insurance claims money – money that the NFIP is required to pay because insured homeowners have paid for it – and call it all “rebuilding money.”

The $108 billion number comes from the middle of last month. At that time, a little over $67 billion dollars had been approved:
* September 2, 2005 – $10.5 billion disaster relief bill

* September 8, 2005 – $51.8 billion disaster relief bill

* December 31, 2005 – $29 billion in hurricane aid, of which $5 billion is new funds and $24 billion diverted from the already authorized $62 billion.
The supplemental request stood at $19.1 billion. And the NFIP borrowing limit was raised to $20.8 billion.

Add those numbers and you get around $108 billion. (Actually, $107.2 billion. They round up.)

Today, the supplemental bill stands at $27.1 billion. Therefore, when asked “How much has been spent or requested totally for the whole relief/recovery efforts?” the correctly spun number should be $116 billion – if you count the NFIP borrowing limit.

If you don't, the number is $95 billion.

Powell said “right around $100 billion.” That’s much closer to the number not including the NFIP borrowing limit. It definitely doesn't *include* it. I don’t know where the other $5 billion comes from, but I guess $95 billion is "right at $100 billion."

If the reporter had just asked why the numbers were different, Powell would have had to explain all that.

Anyway, now we have a precedent. The Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding does not include flood insurance claims payments as rebuilding money. I can stop keeping count.

Previous posts on this:

Why Bush’s Number Fudging Bites Us in the Butt

Rebuilding the Gulf Coast with Flood Claims

$88 Billion is the New $85 Billion

When does 85 + 18 = 85?

I Want My $85 Billion

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